Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Multi Use Path Update

From today on the Capital city. If you squint you can see the mythic Land of Lincoln. This is the lower branch

This is the upper branch.

This is were I stood when I took the lower picture.

I was off the path for the other picture as well.  Why do I include this?  Neither picture took longer than 2 mins to take and, I'd guess, considerable less time than that.  I got off the path, even though there were no other users around and the only reason there might be is because lots of other people use the path and, it is just possible that if, say, four users came one way and six came the other, my standing on the path would have inconvenienced them all.  Consequently, I reasoned, the extra 10 seconds it took to exit, unclip and then clip and reenter was insufficient grounds to cause some potential irritation to some potential number of people.

When I had completed the task and started to ride onward, I ran into two people with two bikes each towing a baby buggy.  They were stopped on the path blocking the whole of my lane.  Coming the other direction were four cyclists, unrelated as far as I could tell, in longish line in the middle of their lane.  I had to stop.  The two in my lane weren't there for a quick stop.  They had taken one kid out of the buggy and were talking about something or another.  Just off to their right there was a shady spot.  Leaving aside the moral and ethical considerations, it was in their own self interest to move into the shady spot's cool.

At first I thought that this was an example of failing to think about the world around you in Kantian fashion and was an intentionally selfish act.  However, I have recently learned that

It seems pretty obvious that "thick questions" lead to more satisfying answers. Although I couldn't find the giant book of why people act like jackasses, I did, like the kid in the poster, let my mind wonder.[1]  It occurred to me that the problem was thinking or more precisely unthought.  The two people engaged in unthought.  No thinking being is going to stop his or her car in the middle of a road, for example, to get the kid out of the child seat.  The two weren't  consciously jackasses. They were jackasses because they had never thought about what a bike path is and is not designed for.  I am pretty certain that it was not designed so that you can pause in your travels and block other users from using the path.[2] It also seems to be the case that because no law intervenes, the police might give a cyclist a ticket for running a stop sign or a red light, while letting cars stop in the crosswalk, they are scarce on the ground off campus and it is unlikely that they are going to bother folks who stop for a quick chat. In short, you get to break the law and be a jackass and no one is going to legally punish you.

In the interest of limiting unthought, I offer some simple rules.  The easiest to follow, because it is valid in cases, is Kant's but that really is asking to much for people to think of other people as people instead of props in some Randian distopia, it would seem.

Over arching rule:
Most people don't know you and consequently most people don't particularly care if you live or die. So for god's sake stop acting like the opposite were case.
Five simple rules[3]:
1) Be marginally aware of what is going on around you.
2) If alone ride/run/walk/rollerblade/etc as far to the right as in practicable.  If there are more than one of you, never ride outside the yellow line; if there is no yellow line pretend that there is.
3) Never do anything requires that people follow or assumes that anyone follows rules 1 and 2.
4) Consequently be in control of your mode of transportation.
5) Get off the path if you have to stop.
 Feel free to add your own in the comments; but I think this may pretty much have saved Western Civilization.

[1] Heyoh
[2]You may be saying "Oh good gracious me oh my, shut up already."  But consider this, this was the only time the two, so far as I know, impeded anyone so from their perspective it was no big thing.  For me it was the fourth or fifth time today and the twelfth of the last seven days.  Or something like that.  Straws and camels backs, in other words.
[3] Obviously it is never go to happen but take out the damn earbuds and take off the damn headphones.  I mean really, its bad enough that 10% of everyone doing anything on the path is clearly incapable of thought but why should those of you blasting Helen Reddy or rockin' on to the driving beat of Olivia Newton John's latest hit want to make yourself even less alert.  Goodness knows what the combination of the rocktastic rockatude and exercise created dopamine might do.

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